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Title: The evolution of cooperation, especially in humans
Author: El Mouden, Claire M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 6933
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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I develop social evolution theory to study the evolution of cooperation as follows: (1) Many organisms undergo a dispersal phase prior to breeding; I demonstrate that knowing ones dispersal status aids the evolution of helping (by non-dispersers) and harming (by dispersers). (2) Policing driven by group-benefits may be selected to enforce cooperation in human and animal societies. I extend existing theory to show that policing may be harder to evolve that previously thought, but that it is maintained more readily than it evolves. (3) Archeological and anthropological evidence suggests that warfare was prevalent during our evolution. I show that, contrary to previous suggestions, between-group competition can favour any social behaviour (pro-social or anti-social) so long as it helps the group compete, and that such traits can be altruistic or mutually beneficial. (4) Reproductive leveling is analogous to policing; in the human literature there is doubt as to whether it can evolve. I extend my previous work to consider the coevolution of culturally and genetically inherited traits for reproductive leveling and selfishness. I find that cooperation can evolve between non-kin if they share the same culture. (5) Monogamy is thought to favour the evolution of cooperative breeding. I show that in the simplest case, because of the cost of competition between non-dispersing siblings, the level of promiscuity has little or no effect on the evolution of cooperation. (6) Spatial structure (limited dispersal) is thought to favour the evolution of inter-specific mutualisms as it aligns the partners’ interests. I consider the case of plant-fungi mutualisms and show that spatial structure can disfavour cooperation if it limits the potential fungal partners available to the plant.
Supervisor: West, Stuart A. ; Gardner, Andy Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology ; Evolution (zoology) ; Behaviour (zoology) ; Biology and other natural sciences (mathematics) ; Mathematical biology ; Evolutionary biology ; Human Evolution ; Sociobiology ; Inclusive Fitness ; Kin Selection ; Cultural Evolution